Alaska Airlines is working on new ways for flight attendants to gain more insight into their consumers who are sitting in airplane seats. Travelers book a flight online and provide information about their likes and dislikes. The brand knows their customers online, but after they take their seat on the plane it's almost like the two never met, said Alaska Airlines VP of Customer Innovation Curtis Kopf.
"We know a lot about people who fly," Kopf said. "The flight attendants don't have the information at their fingertips. We may act like we don't know you, but we do. It's not a simple problem, but we're trying to solve it."
Gartner hosted its first digital marketing conference this week, pulling in its expertise in IT and technology. Aside from Kopf, John Wiley & Sons EVP and CMO Clay Stobaugh joined the conversation.
Kopf told Search Marketing Daily that an app will begin rolling out Tuesday that tells flight attendants the status of the frequent flyer status of travelers. He also said Alaska Airlines uses 30,000 data points to have a plane take off and land on time, and marketing should have the ability to improve the customer experience through the data.
It takes knowledgeable people to build out these services. Kopf said the biggest struggle involves finding employees with skills in paid search, search engine optimization, and mobile. It's about filling the skills gap, and campaign collaboration across channels from billboards to TV to search engines.
VANs Global VP of Marketing Fara Howard agrees. Consumers look at the way they are treated online and in stores, sometimes a completely different experience. Customers provide brands with tons of data about themselves, but many times it's "I love you and you don't even know my name," she said.
Digital has humanized the customer, Stobaugh said. He believes that marketing departments own the customer experience, and strategic vision. Through the data, customers speak to brands.
The marketing funnel now looks like the flight of the bumble bee in a field of new clover, said Yvonne Genovese, group VP at Gartner, during the opening keynote in San Diego, Calif., Monday. The X-factor today means gathering the correct type of data and managing it in a chaotic environment, she said.